Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It is typically abrasive and usually makes use of fast tempos, high-pitched electric guitars often played with tremolo picking, high-pitched shrieking vocals, and unconventional song structures. It is prone to experimentation and certain elements typical to black metal are not always used by every band within the subgenre.
The first bands to pioneer the style were mostly thrash metal bands that formed the prototype for black metal in the early 1980s; they are referred to collectively as the First Wave, and consist of a few bands, such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Second Wave emerged, primarily of Norwegian bands like Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone and Emperor. Although there is no well-defined Third Wave, modern black metal bands have incorporated new musical and lyrical trends into their music.
Black metal has been met with considerable hostility from mainstream culture, mainly because of the misanthropic and Anti-Christian attitude of many bands. This iconoclastic ideology is typical of black metal bands. Additionally, a few black metal bands have been associated with church burnings, murder, and/or National Socialism . Black metal is generally seen as an underground form of music, in part because it does not appeal to mainstream tastes and because its musicians often choose to remain obscure.